I expect that you have already completed a course in Introductory Psychology, as well as at least one other course in psychology (I particularly recommend Research Methods, Social Psychology, Biological Psychology, or Personality Psychology). I do not check to be sure this has occurred, but I do assume that you are familiar with the broad foundation of psychology.
Students will identify and describe the major forms of psychological disorders and the major theories regarding the classification, etiology, and treatment of psychological disorders,and current data relevant to such theories.
When you complete this course, you should be able to:
Most people who take this course find it both engaging and difficult. The material is naturally interesting, the book is filled with case studies, and the information is relevant to your own experience—especially to those entering helping professions. Even so, it is challenging for several reasons:
In spite of this high standard, in my experience most people study hard and do quite well.
Let me suggest a few principles to maximize your effectiveness:
This course is an introduction to and overview of abnormal behavior and mental disorders. We will look primarily at symptoms, causes, and dynamics of these problems, although there will be some attention to other issues, such as treatment. Because of the large variety of material covered we have to move briskly, without going into much detail in some areas. Lecture material in the study guide is not always intended to cover the same material as the readings, although there is usually some overlap. The lectures will expand on some points and primarily focus on major areas. Occasionally I have little to add to the textbook material, so the lecture is brief.
Cheating of any kind will result in a lowered grade for the test and may result in a lowered grade for the course and in other University sanctions. Remember that cheating includes any form of using the work of others when it should be your own: for example, borrowing other’s written work to help you with yours and discussing questions on an examination with those who have already taken it. The University’s statement on academic honesty is found at the Honor Code Office website.
Aside from the obvious differences (such as lack of class discussion) this course differs from my in-class Abnormal Psychology course in two respects.
First, there is a Psychology Department requirement for a field work component which is not practical in this course. That is unfortunate, because many students report field work is one of the most positive events of their college experience. I highly recommend that you take an opportunity (if it is available) for volunteer work that exposes you to populations about which you are reading.
Second, in my on-campus course I require an ongoing search for media events that include mental-illness issues, with a required portfolio at the end of the course. The portfolio is impractical in Independent Study, but you can be actively involved in the media activity. Good sources are newspapers (especially on the day of the week they do science reports), news magazines (e.g., Time, Newsweek), and occasionally television (especially the news or programs like 60 Minutes and Dateline), or even movies. Post the examples you find in the course Discussion Board in the Course Resources module.
The textbook for this course is:
Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach, by Barlow & Durand, 7th Ed. Wadsworth/Cengage, 2015.
You will note from the organization of the lessons that I mostly follow the textbook as written. However, I expand in a couple of places, as well as change the sequence of material a couple of times. At the beginning of each lesson is a section called “Assignments,” Step 1 always includes a description of which parts of the textbook to read for that lesson. Follow it closely. Step 2 usually directs you to watch the portions of the optional website for that lesson.
Internet resources can be helpful. There are also many helpful sites about mental illness in general and about specific disorders. However, I encourage caution—as with all Internet resources, some sites can be inaccurate or misleading.
Before completing assignments or taking examinations, you can test your knowledge of the material with the Self Check questions in each lesson. Most of these questions are similar to those in the graded assignments and the exams, but some are short-answer or essay questions intended to encourage you to think about the material you have read. These questions do not count toward your grade.
At the end of each lesson is a graded assignment. Most of these are “Lesson Assignments,” which are multiple-choice assignments covering only the material for that lesson. These questions do count towards your grade.
For three of the lessons, you will write a paper on an assigned topic. You will submit your completed essays electronically through your course. To make sure that I can open and read your papers, please save them as Word .DOC or .DOCX files. Include the course name, your name, and the assignment name in the filname, like this: PSYCH342_JaneSmith_Essay1.docx.
Note: Because your papers are instructor-graded, you will receive feedback more slowly. These assignments also count towards your grade.
There are two examinations, a midcourse and a final, each covering half of the course material. They represent almost half of your grade, so prepare well.
Examinations, as samples, are always imperfect measures of your learning. Even so, I do my best to make mine fair. I believe the answer to any question should not turn on an obscure point, but I think you should have more than a vague idea. Questions, then, often have choices that test your understanding of distinctions within the broader issue. Lecture emphasis is a good gauge of topics I find important to understand. However, in lectures I often emphasize understanding of broad points, letting the book fill in details. Those who do best with my questions pay attention to topics and issues I consider important, then look to the book for details. The exams aren’t easy, but if you prepare well, you can get good grades.
Note: You must pass the final exam to pass the course.
Grading is based on two exams, fifteen lesson assignments, and three essays, according to this breakdown:
|15 Lesson Assignments||1% each||15%|
|3 Essays||15% each||45%|
Both lesson and exam questions are multiple-choice. Exams are not cumulative; each covers half of the course content. Information from the textbook readings and "lectures" are both represented on exams, weighted about proportional to their respective lengths.
Your course grade is based on these percentages:
|E (fail)||49 or below|
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